It’s fair to say that many college students are coffee drinkers. A cup of morning Joe can save a grade or be a great date idea, but a particular group of Auburn students has set out to prove that coffee- or lack thereof- could actually make a difference in lives overseas.
Mocha Club Director Barrett Ward founded the organization in 2004 after leading a group of college students on a trip to Africa. After spending time with them, he realized the frustration students feel about the inability to support humanitarian projects. The Mocha Club started as a way for financially challenged people to supply others' needs.
Emily Crane, a senior and campus rep for Auburn’s Mocha Club, founded the club in 2009 after being contacted by the club’s national headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.
Mocha Club had recently begun a campus rep program, and Crane eagerly accepted the position with a vision of expansion and awareness on Auburn’s campus.
Crane was first inspired to help after taking a trip to Kenya in high school and seeing the reality of poverty and physical needs that were unmet.
Starting with her closest friends and those she knew had interest in Africa, Crane set out to gather a crowd of people who shared the same vision and hope that she did. The response was overwhelming, and success was quickly on its way.
Today, the club boasts over 400 members, and Crane aspires for the group to continue growing into the future with the leadership of younger members.
Crane says joining the club is an attainable way to serve the less fortunate, especially for college students. “It’s aimed at anyone, but the main demographic is people who don’t have a ton of extra income to give but can sacrifice something small.”
As one of the fastest-growing clubs on Auburn’s campus, the organization promoted itself by setting up tables on the concourse, attending meetings for other campus organizations and making chapter visits to Greek fraternities and sororities. The club continues to gain publicity via "concourse awareness days" and presenting membership opportunities at other campus organizations' meetings.
Crane says that students’ knowledge of the Mocha Club is the most important means to accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives. “[Awareness] is the main way to get more people involved in giving to fund these projects,” she says.
For a minimum of $7 per month, members can choose one of five causes to financially support: child mothers and women at risk, clean water, education, HIV/AIDS, or orphan care. Monthly follow-up emails update student donors on project progress and how their money is being spent.
Crane says the heart behind the organization is to challenge students to give up some “luxury” item in order to provide the bare necessities for those in need.
“The giving is supposed to come from giving up something that you would normally have. It’s called Mocha Club because a lot of people drink coffee, so you can give that up pretty easily,” she says.